Sharan Burrow was elected General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in 2010. She was ITUC President from 2006-10, and before that President of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (2004-06). She is the first woman to have held any of these positions. The ITUC is the world’s main international trade union organisation, representing 176 million workers in 156 countries and territories from 315 national affiliates.
Sharan Burrow was born in 1954 in Warren, a small town in western New South Wales (NSW), Australia, into a family with a long history of involvement in unions and the struggle to improve the lives of working people. She studied teaching at the University of New South Wales in 1976 and began her teaching career in high schools around country NSW. She became an organiser for the NSW Teachers’ Federation, was elected Senior Vice-President of the NSW Teachers’ Federation and then became President of the Australian Education Union (AEU) in 1992. In May 2000, she became only the second woman to be elected President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).
From 1995-2000 Sharan Burrow was Vice-President of Education International, the international organisation of education unions representing 24 million members worldwide. She has also served as a member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation and a member of the Stakeholder Council of the Global Reporting Initiative.